Suffolk County Council's bid to be 'net zero' by 2030

Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for environment and public protection said the s

Deputy council leader Richard Rout - Credit: Suffolk County Council

Suffolk County Council has unveiled its first 'carbon budget' in its bid to reach net zero by 2030.

The budget will painstakingly collate the carbon emissions across the whole organisation - including staff travel, emissions from council buildings, waste produced, and even emissions where staff are working from home.

It will then be reported annually to ensure carbon reduction measures are working and what further steps are needed.

But opposition councillors said the financial budget and carbon budget needed to be produced together, and questioned where the checks and balances will be to ensure it is working.

Richard Rout, deputy leader and Conservative cabinet member for finance and environment at Suffolk County Council, said: “This is an historic budget – the first full budget of its kind that the council has ever produced.

“Becoming a net zero organisation by 2030 is incredibly ambitious, but I’m committed to doing everything we can to realise that vision.

“It’s incredibly challenging to have an exact figure for every last gram of CO2 that the council emits."

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The authority explained that while some emissions, known as scope one and scope two, are easier to calculate as they are direct emissions or emissions from purchased energy, others were harder to work out.

Those are scope three outputs which occur because of the council’s business but are not directly controlled by the council. Those include emissions from homes where staff are working from, contractors’ work and staff transport in their own vehicles.

Cllr Rout also stressed that while it is not possible to eliminate all emissions, it aims to offset those emissions through initiatives such as tree planting or producing its own renewable power.

Andrew Stringer, leader of the opposition Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group, said the group was disheartened as it felt the environmental impact of would not be known until it was too late.

Annette Dunning, group spokesperson for achieving net zero, added: “We need measures in place to ensure this council is accountable in becoming carbon neutral by 2030.”

A carbon budget is set to be produced each year at the same time as the financial budget going forward, with at least one review point midway through the year.

Among measures that are already going on to reduce carbon output have been a £12.8m fund dedicated to decarbonising buildings, reducing staff travel and LED street lights.